Teaching yourself how to reload


July 29, 2007, 10:17 PM
I'm curious as to people's feelings on teaching oneself to reload. Good idea or bad? I helped my father do some reloading as a teen but that was 30 years ago using equipment that was already 20-30 years old. No presses at all.

If this is practicable what are some recommendations as to books/videos on the subject? TIA

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July 29, 2007, 10:26 PM
Yes you can teach yourself to reload. I would recommend that you obtain some literature on the subject.The price of a good reloading manual is not that high and it will give you a great start on your road to loading your own ammo.If something is not clear,ask questions. Fellow reloaders can certainly emphatize and will be glad to assist you.

July 29, 2007, 11:04 PM
I taught myself to reload in 1963. I started with a used Hollywood press that I bought from a college professor and a manual. Still have them both and now load for about 23 different calibers. We used to do things like that before there was an internet......


Navy joe
July 29, 2007, 11:28 PM
It is perfectly acceptable. I did it.

-You must have an updated reloading manual.
-If in doubt, don't try it.
-Safety is your primary goal, after that good performance.
-Learn good habits the first time and stick to them.

My first press was a Dillon 550B. I am the impatient sort so the day I got the press I had 200 rounds made. They all worked great. To do that, I had been reading THRs reloading forum for a while. I had a Lyman manual and had read it to the point I was familiar with all the terms and abbreviations used. I followed Dillons manual, weighed powder about 1000 times before I got my powder setup right and then I went to town.

Essential tools:
-Reloading manual.
-An accurate scale. I use an electronic Dillon but there are plenty of cheaper options in manual balances.
-Accurate calipers.
-A case gage for your caliber.
-A bullet puller so you can undo mistakes.

Essential skills:
-Good scientific method. A scale accurate to .1 grain is usless if you do not verify the zero often, bump it around or let it get dirty. Likewise good calipers are usless if you clamp down on them one time but measure loosely the next.

-Good scientific method, write everything down. Every load I have ever made is written down. Date, caliber, case, bullet type/weight, powder, primer, OAL, crimp if applicable, number loaded, and after I shoot them performance notes.

-Patience and concentration. If you are tired, stressed, or distracted you should not be loading.

July 30, 2007, 07:24 AM
Yup, I did it as well . .did alot of reading first and really took my time. (still do)


July 30, 2007, 08:33 AM
i kinda am self taught. this board kinda held my hand through the process though so i wasn't really 'on my own'. looking back its really not too bad. if your around CNY you can come check my stuff out to see if its for you.

July 30, 2007, 09:01 AM
I think it is better to be self/ book taught than to trust a "friend" to show you. The "friend" may have some habits than aint the best in the world to have.

Go slow and PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING and you will do just fine.

July 30, 2007, 09:02 AM
I taught myself. I read the manual and asked a lot of questions on here. I also read a lot of other threads. Take it slow, read a lot and don't be afraid to ask questions and you should be fine.

July 30, 2007, 09:06 AM
Self-taught works (so far).

It helped that my first two presses came mostly set-up by the factory.

the pistolero
July 30, 2007, 09:13 AM
I'm curious as to people's feelings on teaching oneself to reload. Good idea or bad?
Depends on the person. I taught myself more or less, read the various threads here at THR and talked to several people who reload about the process itself. But I also took it very slowly, weighing about every other charge at first, measuring OAL several times, and even weighing the completed cartridges. I don't go quite that far now, but every tenth charge still gets thrown on the scale and every tenth complete cartridge goes under the calipers.

July 30, 2007, 09:37 AM
I taught myself how to reload in June 2007.
A friend and I learned together, and he loads a lot of rifle rounds on a single stage and I load a lot of pistol rounds on a turret press.

Together we've probably put together a few thousand rounds. He claims his .223's are just as accurate as factory, but he builds 500 rounds for about $30. I load .45acp and 9mm. Neither of us have any books on the subject (except for the ABC's of reloading, which is pure garbage history information, not good for someone interested in reloading for the first time. It's sitting on a shelf, it's yours if you want to pay shipping.) It does, however tell you how to measure chamber pressures, which is great....if you have the equipment.

Anyhow, reloading is only as exact a science as you want it to be. I weigh my charges on occasion and as long as they're within .2 grains (.1 grains on 9mm), I'm happy. I really just want to shoot for cheap, so I always load to the "minimum" or just under the minimum listed charge weight.

Once you get going, order your supplies from www.powdervalleyinc.com they are the cheapest, and I use them for everything.... well, except www.brassmanbrass.com has a special of $29 for 1000 9mm 125 grain LRN right now.

Get a lee press... and there are videos on how to set them up on lee's website... google "lee precision".

I started out weighing every single charge, now I weigh every 500th or so.

July 30, 2007, 09:56 AM
I'm in the process of "teaching myself" right now. But I'd know nowhere as much as I do in the short time I've been reloading without this forum. It is much better than having someone teach you. What if that someone doesn't know as much as they think they know? When I have a question, and post it here, I get a variety of answers. It is like being a single student in a classroom full of teachers. If somebody's full of it, it will probably be obvious. If you take it slow, make conservative choices to start, and use good sense, and ask questions here when you are in doubt, you'll do just fine "teaching yourself."

July 30, 2007, 10:23 AM
I taught myself back before there was such a thing as THR. Bought a couple of books and went from there.

July 30, 2007, 10:34 AM
Hey Folks: I'm new to HighRoads, and the information available today is by, and far superior to what most of the "Old Timers" [with total respect intended]:)
Most if not all 'OT' had only a book, basic tools, and a hankering to do there on thing.
Respected Knowledge, and still alive to tell about it. :what:
I have met Engineers, Dr's., House wives, construction workers, and the world of curious minded folks.
Having an admiration, with a curious mind, we all [now] enjoy a time of plenty of proper managed info. How much has changed since the onslaught of us. A plenty. Yet it basically remains the same.
These 'OT' survived by placing there trust in the Books, and good sense.
Be good, and Be safe, and Be Responsible, and then I want you to write about your experiences; so I can enjoy [vicariously] through your eyes.

Many thanks, Craig

July 30, 2007, 10:47 AM
Me too! I started with the LEE Anniversary Kit that included the LEE reloading manual - it's got everything you need to read in that manual. That kit + dies + calipers + reloading block for the rounds (optional but recommended) + case length gage and pilot for trimming the rifle calibers you reload and you're in business. There's plenty of reloaders here to answer whatever questions you might have.

July 30, 2007, 12:48 PM
Thanks for all the replys. guys. I feel better about going ahead and giving this a try. Now, what do you recommend for presses and such? Single stage or turret? Initially I will be reloading pistol ammo but will want to branch out to rifle ammo in the near future. I know about Midway, are there any others I should know about? I checked out kellyj00's sites which I appreciate.

July 30, 2007, 01:05 PM
I started with "The ABCs of Reloading" - I read that darn near cover-to-cover several times. I just saw the neweste version at Borders, and it looks very good - I think it has colored pictures of every step in the process.

Then I thought I was going to buy myself a Hornady Lock N Load Classic kit, so I bought the Hornady manual.

Then a friend at work who had bought a Dillon gave me an old Lyman turret press (T-Mag?).

So I bought the Lyman reloading manual. You don't really have to have the same brand reloading manual as your press, but several folks suggested that I have at least two.

I had read a lot, so I felt ready to start.

The main thing I learned is to relly stop and think when something doesn't seem right. I was loading a complete round at a time - which was a mistake for other reasons. I had just crimped the bullet, and I looked over and saw a load still sitting in the pan on my scale. I started to just move on, but then I thought, "Wait that load should not be there!" So I went out and bought an inertial bullet puller, and sure enough, I had a squib.

Since then, I have loaded about 2K rounds - still pretty much a newbie. But I do still have all my fingers and toes.

Go slow, be methodical, and have a lot of fun!

My hat off to folks who start with a progressive - I started with the turret press, and that seemed complicated enough to me. I know folks who learn on a progressive, so it can be done. Not sure that I could have done that.


July 30, 2007, 01:09 PM
that's how I'm learning (I won't say learned...because there's still so much I don't know).

I'm a "gear head" so it all made sense.

didn't have the luxury of a mentor....other than the guys on this forum (who have been extremely helpful...thanks THR Reloaders)

be humble....read....be patient....ask questions....don't try to cook up super hot loads....respect the tools and materials.....and have fun.

July 30, 2007, 01:10 PM
I'm in your shoes right now.
I've been reading for several weeks now, it's almost time for an order.
My first press is probably going to be a Lee Classic Turret from Kempf Gun Shop (http://www.kempfgunshop.com/products/reloading/completerelo/KempfKit.html)
My wife and I go thru about 600 rounds per month right now, another 3-400 more if we do 2 local IDPA matches per month.
The classic turret is not the fastest way to make rounds, but it'll be a good introduction. If I find that I need more speed, I'll upgrade to a progressive and keep the turret for long guns and other calibers that I don't shoot too often.

For now I'm still collecting and cleaning brass, reading and researching.

The Bushmaster
July 30, 2007, 02:05 PM
Self taught with a lot of help from a 46th Edition Lyman loading manual and some help from my resident Gunsmith over 20 years ago...If you "self teach" Make sure you do a lot of reading and go slow...:)

July 30, 2007, 02:26 PM
I taught myself over 30 years ago. I still have all my fingers, both eyes, and haven't blown up any guns. Go for it.

.41 magnum man
July 30, 2007, 05:29 PM
I am missing a few fingers, but that was from trying to learn how to catch snapping turtles on my own. :D

I am new to all this myself, but as many others have stated, it is sooo great to have all the help available here from so many good people.

Not trying to steer you toward any press, but I just bought a Lee Classic Turret Press. It is a strong piece of equipment. I got mine at Cabelas. I don't think Lee sells it as a kit on their website. But the price of Lee equipment at Cabelas is better than Lee's prices online. I have seen several posts of other people getting theirs at Kempf Gun Shop. Might be cheaper there.

Just use your head, take your time, listen to good advice, GO BY THE BOOKS, and you should be okay. Uh-oh, I just saw that you are over 30 years old. Well, you might be too old to learn! Ha! (I am learning at 44.)

July 30, 2007, 05:50 PM
I am self taught also and still learning. I learned from the Speer #13 manual and also with help from a lot of the great reloaders here. Don't be afraid to ask questions no matter how dumb you think it might be. Congrats and welcome.

July 30, 2007, 06:06 PM
.41 magnum man: Sir keep your fingers outta them Turtles mouths. Sir; they'll only let go cause; you got to have fingers to tell us the stories.
The ABC,s of reloading is perhaps the best of all the new-comers books. He aint trying to pitch his products. [except subversively] The info is quite to the point and when we need 'fluff' it aint there. Personally I find this to my liking.
I have read about 5-6 different books after awhile it seems redundant. In reality it reinforces a thought process. Reading the 'OT' thoughts again re-enforces the safety values and is encouraging for the new-be.

We need to look at .41 mag/ Sistma1927/and the Bushmaster and see;
It can be done, and has been done; these three [know that more abounds] have a collective of greater than 65 years experiences. We can short cut some our mistakes with the speed of a Forum. I intend to ask!:)

As far as equipment My studying; all that is available; Lordy Lordy what to do?
One moment its the Redding t7 next the Rockchucker next Dillion next; you can see my point. Again I've posted about specific units, and will observe the differences of opinions. I value these hand on opinions; as much as I value the books.
Aint much ever been into buying a pig ina polk sack.:)

Anyway Thanks for the thoughts. Craig:)

lee n. field
July 30, 2007, 06:57 PM
I'm curious as to people's feelings on teaching oneself to reload. Good idea or bad?

Can be done. I had noone to learn from, so I learned it from Lyman's manual.

I made a few mistakes in my initial equipment purchases, and I was meticulous and very slow loading the first few rounds, making triple sure to follow the published data.

Vern Humphrey
July 30, 2007, 07:06 PM
I suspect most of us taught ourselves to reload. Let me repeat the advice everyone has given -- start with a good manual and read it before you buy anything else. The manual will explain the process step by step, will tell you exactly what you need, and explain the use of every item.

I will differ with some other's advice on one point -- Lee dies come with loading instructions, a charge sheet and a dipper. If you follow the charge sheet and use the dipper, you can produce quite satisfactory ammunition -- but not max charges. You can put off buying a scale for later, when you feel more confident.

July 30, 2007, 07:54 PM
I bought my first gun (a .40 S&W), shot 150 rounds of retail carts through it, and then got a kemphs lee classic turret kit and started reloading, and have shot ONLY reloads since. I haven't read a loading manual, but have read everything available on the internet. If you have common sense, you can teach yourself to reload.

July 30, 2007, 08:14 PM
Order a Lee Classic loader for whatever caliber you want to work with first. I don't remember where I got mine, but it was at my door for less than $20. it will have a chart inside that will tell you what powder to use with the different bullet weights. I can scan mine for you if you want to order the kit along with everything else.

Aside from the kit, you'll need bullets, powder, primers, case lube, a small hammer, gloves, and eye protection. Depending on what kind of bullets you use, a Lee Chamfer Tool (about $3) might also be useful. I also use a short section of 2x8 as my workbench. This is the cheapest way I found to get into reloading. It's also completely portable and takes up minimal space.


In the future I plan to get a Lee Anniversary Loader, which is the next step up from what I have now.

August 9, 2007, 09:14 PM
I had the Lee Classic loader in a few calibers back in the '70s. I read some books about reloading, and I didn't do much of it, though I was quite the do-it-yourself type. Why? Because it takes forever to turn out a few rounds!

I got back into reloading with a Dillon 550 in 1992. I read some more. Now I'm "comfortable" with reloading. I don't think I'll ever feel I'm an expert.

The difference between the two methods is very hard to describe. Both will create accurate, safe ammunition. I guess I have other things to do than reload, so I find the Dillon to be better. Accurate, safe and FAST.

August 9, 2007, 10:03 PM
FWIW, I got the Lee Anniversary Kit, but I first sat with a 30 yr. veteran for several hours who let me make all the mistakes I could with his setup and my components. I still screw up, but less and less, while learning more and more. See if you can find a mentor. Then, once you feel ready, become one.

August 9, 2007, 10:32 PM
I'm a carpenter by trade. Reloading ammo to me isn't much different than using a nail set. I do things in stages but I'd say each round takes under one minute.

August 10, 2007, 09:29 AM
Safety first, I am glad I took the plunge. Current ammo prices make it a money saving hobby. But you'll shoot more, you may not save. You will however, recoup your equipment cost in savings faster than ever before.

It's like any hobby. You can dabble and go purely for cost savings and make yourself ammunition tuned to your particular rifle which will shoot better and that's that.

Or you can go beyond the basics and get the neck turners, trimmers, neck sizing dies, micrometer seating dies and so on. You can also get into progressive reloading, which offers significant time savings. I think of a progressive more for pistol ammo where I want a lot of it. For rifle, I still prefer the single stage.

August 10, 2007, 11:49 AM
I taught myself late last year. You learn a lot in the first few sessions, then you learn a little each time after. Take it slow, triple-check your work, and learn a rhythm. It's not necessary to have expensive gear to make accurate loads, just patience. I recently had the experience of loading my first compressed charge. That was kinda hair raising. You'll continuously be learning something new.

August 10, 2007, 12:33 PM
Both Lee's manual and Dillon's video are very good for showing you what to do, when, and why, and once you have that down, it's basically a matter of following the proper recipe.

August 10, 2007, 12:51 PM
I taught myself but I asked for a lot of advice from some long time reloaders at work first. I weigh every powder charge . Lee Classic Cast - RCBS digital Scale, Digital Caliper the cheap lee trimmers work great in a cordless drill. you'll want a good chamfer and beburring tool such as the RCBS. and Loadbooks usa loading data books are pretty good they are caliber specific and contain loading data from several of the bullet and powder makers handbooks.

August 10, 2007, 01:57 PM
I started reloading at the beginning of this year.

I learned from several of the recommended texts in this thread, and the THR archives.

I still have all my fingers, and my ammo is cheap.

August 10, 2007, 06:36 PM
I recently learned and i'm still learning to reload. The Lyman manual is a good
place to start. I would start out with a simple press, whatever that means.
Get the basics down and for now start out the the minimum loads.

Once you got it, think about a press that will increase the volume.


August 11, 2007, 01:49 AM
"Go slow and PAY ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING and you will do just fine."

Read what Presspuller said, and go for it!

Snapping Twig
August 11, 2007, 02:27 AM
Count me in, self taught.

ABC's of reloading and Lyman, those were my guides.

I am partial to Lyman for this reason, well that and the fact that they're big on casting and lead loadings.

Learn to cast while you're at it. In for a penny, in for a pound.

You get an extra 100fps from a lead bullet for the same powder charge over a copper jacketed bullet. That righ there ought to wet your whisltle a mite.
Done corectly, it won't lead your barrel and with a gas check, faggettaboutit - no lead and push the bullet to the max.

August 11, 2007, 11:56 AM
I loaded the first time back in 1963, using a kit similar to Kevin108's lee basic loader. It was for my then "new" old German Mauser in 8 X 57. It was my brother's kit, he had a Mauser also.

After a stint in the AF, I got a slightly used RCBS rockchucker, with 30-06 dies. That was 1971. Back then, there wasn't a useful source of info like this forum, only a cantankerous old coot who sold components out of his basement under a liquor store! I did have several manuals, which was all I needed for the basics.

I made usable ammo for my dad's 03-a3, then I bought a new rem-700 in 243. My arsenal has grown, I don't buy anything that can't be reloaded,(other than rimfire of course).

Yes you can be self taught. It would be better if you had a mentor. I bet if you found a local shooting range, then asked around, you could find someone willing to spend some time with you. As has been said, sometimes you might be learning someone else's bad habits. I suppose I do some things that COULD be considered wrong, but all my appendages are still intact!

Vern Humphrey
August 11, 2007, 12:03 PM
I started with a Lee Loader (actually from Herter's), graduated to a Lyman 310 Tong Tool, and finally to a Lyman Spar-T turret press, which I still have.

August 11, 2007, 12:10 PM
Order a Lee Classic loader for whatever caliber you want to work with first. I don't remember where I got mine, but it was at my door for less than $20. it will have a chart inside that will tell you what powder to use with the different bullet weights. I can scan mine for you if you want to order the kit along with everything else.

Aside from the kit, you'll need bullets, powder, primers, case lube, a small hammer, gloves, and eye protection. Depending on what kind of bullets you use, a Lee Chamfer Tool (about $3) might also be useful. I also use a short section of 2x8 as my workbench. This is the cheapest way I found to get into reloading. It's also completely portable and takes up minimal space.

That's the way I learned, and it was an education.
Went from there to a RCBS pardner, a special-5, a dillon 550b, then another, now I have more different kinds of presses, as I'm trying to determine what works best for me. I deprime/resize on a loadmaster, clean in an ultrasonic cleaner, and load an a pair of 550s so far. It's all a work in progress.
I still got 20/20 vision in both eyes, and all my fingers and toes. My hearing isn't so good anymore, but that had nothing to do with reloading.

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